In the lead up to this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race there is one famous previous winner which is preparing for something quite different. The famous yacht Solo has stood abandoned on the hardstand of a Brisbane shipyard now for several years.
Solo is suffering severe corrosion and, with no prospect of her hardstand fees being paid, the owners of the yard are faced with some hard decisions to make as to her fate. The yacht has a famous history which compelled legendary America’s Cup skipper, Jock Sturrock, to write in 1987: “Few yachts in the world could match Solo’s career as racer, cruiser and Antarctic explorer”.
As a racing yacht, Solo competed in all offshore races in Australia between 1955 and 1963. She twice won line honours in the Hobart and twice on handicap. Her win in the 1962 race against the first American entry Ondine was a classic, and ensured her place in history.
Her cruising record is almost as enviable, with three world circumnavigations and several voyages into the Pacific. The headlines in those years were more about Vic Meyer, the owner skipper and his penchant for all-female crews!
Dr David Lewis was responsible for taking Solo to the Antarctic and safely bringing her back to Sydney with a group of scientists in the summer of 1977/78.
Since 1979, Solo has been engaged in the tourist trade first in the Whitsundays and finally on Moreton Bay in Brisbane.
Kevin Bourke has written a well-researched book about her history: ‘Man of Iron Ship of Steel’, published late in 2014. He mentioned her current plight and suggested she could be saved by establishing a Solo Heritage Trust. This Trust has not materialised, and requests from Maritime Museums have not been encouraging.
However, some recent developments are encouraging. The Moreton Bay Discovery Museum Incorporated was registered on 3 September 2015, ABN 12 427 129 964. On 11 September, the Museum was registered by the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission. Tax deductible gift status is still pending. An extension of the buildings on the William Gunn Jetty, Manly Boat Harbour and adjacent berths will be home to the Museum. A Development Application is currently being processed by the Brisbane City Council. Construction is scheduled over the next two years.
Solo could form part of the exhibits of the Museum. Unfortunately it will be some time before it will have status as a tax deductible charity. Solo can’t wait that long, as her increasing debts and creeping rust is close to dooming her future.
A total of $100,000 is required to save Solo and get her back in the water. To date, $25,000 has been pledged to this project, but this falls well short of the amount required.
Anyone who can help ensure her survival is asked to contact Kevin Bourke on 0419674451 or email email@example.com